Fishermen worried over bountiful ‘Kargil fish’ catch

Labourers engage in clearing ‘Kargil fish’ from a boat at Malpe Port in Udupi.

After week-long fishing, fishermen are returning with bountiful catch to Malpe port. However, there are no smiles on the tanned faces of the fishermen. For only 5% of their total catch are  of commercial importance.

The remaining 95% of the catch are ‘Kargil fish’ (Redtoothed Triggerfish). The boats that had left Malpe port for deep-sea fishing have returned with a huge quantity of Kargil fish, which are not consumed and thus do not have any commercial importance.

“Fish meal industries purchase Kargil fish for Rs 12 per kg. If it is cut and sold, then fishermen get Rs 16 per kg,” former president of Malpe Fishermen Association Sathish Kunder told DH.

He said some boats on an average are bringing 10 tonnes of Kargil fish daily. The Kargil fish are supplied to fish meal industries in Udupi, Mangaluru, Goa and Maharashtra. Each tonne fetches only Rs 11,000, which is not commercially viable for the fishermen, Kunder said.

“We spend a minimum of Rs 3.5 lakh on every deep-sea fishing expedition,” he said.

Fishermen’s catch during August to November included a huge quantity of Pomfret, Seer fish, Mackerel, Bondas, Ribbon Bondas which are commercially important fishes due to its high export value, Kunder said. “When price for these fishes increases, we get good income. The income that we earn during this period helps us to tide over the lean fishing period from December to February,” he said. 

“The availability of fish reduces from December onwards. Thus we are forced to go for fishing to far off places in Maharashtra, where the expenditure exceeds revenue. Thus, we manage the entire fishing season with the earnings from bounty fish catches during August to September,” Kunder added. Unfortunately, a majority of catch was only ‘Kargil fish’ during this period.

With Kargil fish being caught in huge numbers, other fishes of high commercial value had suddenly become scarce.

“Fish migrate during cyclone. As a result, we are finding Kargil fish in huge numbers during the season. At present, we are getting only 5% of other species of fish,” a fisherman revealed.

Kargil fish, which stinks, is flooding the dockyard. Malpe Port reeks of a nauseating smell,” said Srinivasa, a resident of Malpe.

Fish and Kargil war

Kunder said, ‘’Fishermen named the Redtoothed Triggerfish after the Kargil as the fishermen had caught these stinking fish for the first time during the Kargil war.’’

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